In an escape and evasion scenario, losing gear while you’re on the run is not an option as it is a clear sign of your presence in an area. In a survival scenario, lost gear could mean losing your chances of rescue and this is why tethering certain equipment like mirrored signaling devices is recommended. In combat survival, these two scenarios take place disengaged from the opponent but how should you view dropped equipment while engaged in the fight? The tendency to visually track a dropped blade and attempt to locate it in fight gets you killed. Sayoc Kali practitioners learn the dropped blade protocol early in their training and deliberate steps are taken to train this bad habit out of their actions with the correct response.
Any number of variables can lead to a dropped blade in a fight. Improper grip, accidental and purposeful disarming, poorly designed sheath, sensory overload through an attack that stuns, these are causes of dropped blades. Instead of determining why you lost a blade, which is thinking about past actions, think instead about what step you will take to correct it in the future. Do you look for the blade taking your eyes off the opponent or do you draw another blade or deploy another weapon? Do you look to use your opponent’s own weapons on him or disengage and run away. The answers to these questions are highly scenario based but they do provide you with better insight into planning prior to this engagement before it happens. Understanding a blade lost in a fight should not be searched for will train you to find blades allowing a better master grip. It will teach you to carry more than one blade and it will also create the mindset and habit of viewing your opponent’s weapons as your own when you otherwise would label yourself “disarmed.” Your opponent’s weapons are not his, they are yours, he is simply holding onto them for you.
Dropped blades in Sayoc class are aluminum trainers. When a new student loses a blade and instinctively follows it with his/her eyes, it is common for trained practitioners to demonstrate the new student’s vulnerability by drawing a blade of their own and presenting it in their direction or in some cases projectiling it. We give our training partners an important education by demonstrating how a simple incorrect action can result in extreme vulnerability. When a large class of trained students teaches a new student the results of breaking the dropped blade protocol, he/she doesn’t make that mistake frequently to avoid the multiple blades drawn on them and thrown their way. As training partners, we value the health and well being of each other and make each other stronger by instilling the correct responses through this type of reinforcement.
In a teamed scenario, one team member can retrieve a lost blade while the other provides cover and scans the area. This protocol teaches both communication and paired movement. Close proximity is maintained while the blade is retrieved and sheathed by one of the pair. Even when reaching for the blade, peripheral vision is used as the practitioner learns to focus his/her attention on the surrounding area. This is done only when the conditions allow it and having a protocol understood by all teammates reduces the chances of one teammate compromising the security of the group.
The dropped blade protocol is also more than a simple rule to follow, it is also a teaching metaphor. This one protocol can lead to the development of other group dynamics. The dropped blade can represent luxuries in an emergency that have been expended. Rather than focusing on what is no longer available, the survivor can utilize what is left and move forward. What have you lost and focused your thoughts and attention on which has resulted in missed opportunities or increased vulnerability? When have you employed a backup or redundant layer to follow through with a task or complete a challenge? These are examples of the lost blade protocol in our everyday lives. Lessons like these can be taught through Sayoc Kali and the art of the blade.
About the Author
Kevin Estela is the Founder and Head Instructor of Estela Wilderness Education. He conducts private and semi-private wilderness and urban/suburban survival courses, tests and evaluates knives and equipment for various companies, is a Mountain Khakis Professional Ambassador, and is a life-long outdoors enthusiast with additional pastimes in canoeing/kayaking, fishing and cooking. Kevin's work has taken him from Los Angeles, CA to the United Kingdom and many points in between. Kevin is ranked in both Sayoc Kali and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is a shooting enthusiast. Kevin is formerly the Lead Instructor for the Wilderness Learning Center. When not teaching outdoor skills, he is a full-time High School History Teacher and Track and Field Coach who lives in Connecticut.